O'Neil, Sean

Field: Early Modern Europe; Advisor: Jones

A former high school English teacher and the son of newspaper journalists, Sean's propensity for taking matters of word choice and storytelling seriously has motivated his interests in linguistics and historiography. His general questions concern theories of notation, visuality, literacy, and language ideology as they have historically intersected with the development of science in early modern Europe. More specifically, he writes about writing, investigating how early modern debates concerning the Roman letter, the Egyptian hieroglyph, and the Chinese character largely begot the presumptions and preoccupations of 19th and 20th century semiotics. Before joining the History Department and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society at Columbia, Sean earned bachelor's degrees in linguistics and English literature at Truman State University and a master's degree in folklore at UC Berkeley.